Modern Goth Fashion: Back From the Dead

modern goth

“Goth” looks were once only a thing of a certain subculture. Goth fashion may seem like a relic of the past, but many people in different groups are opting for modern goth styles and elements in their day-to-day looks.

“Goth” isn’t what it once was. It doesn’t have to be all Marilyn Manson, doom and gloom, and Tripp pants. There are many types of goth fashion beyond the original goth style and the mall goth fashion of the early 2000s.
But what kinds of “goth-type” styles are around now, and how can you incorporate them into your own fashion? Let us explain.
Keep reading to learn all about a few of our favorite goth-adjacent fashion styles so you can decide if you want to join the club or just take a few bits and pieces to incorporate into your own unique style.

Pastel Goth

Pastel goth might seem like an impossible phrase; pastels are the antithesis of all things goth, right?
A small subgroup of people has been taking goth fashion in a brighter and softer direction. While it was more popular in the early 2010s, forged online amongst bloggers and Instagrammers, there are still elements of pastel goth in play today.

Pastel goth fashion shares some elements with Gothic Lolita fashion (which we’ll discuss later). It wants to mix spooky and cute to create something new and sweet.

Don’t be fooled by the name; there’s still plenty of black. It just pairs with pink, teal, lilac, and sky blue.
Often, pastel goth fashion includes pastel-colored hair (pink is the most popular) that contrasts with dark makeup. Pastel goths will pair pink skirts and dresses with visual elements of inverted crosses, skulls, and the spiked colors and headbands that were popularized by the more traditional gothic fashion. They’re also big on fishnet tights and leather harnesses.

In other words, take goth and make it cute.

Black on Black

Anyone who’s worn a lot of black before, goth or not, knows the struggle of someone saying “Hey, are you goth or emo or something?”

In present trends, though, black on black styles are a subgroup of goth. The style is sleek and smooth, often only broken with metal in the form of piercings or standard jewelry.

This look always looks neat, even when it’s comfortable. It’s not always easy to rock the all-black apparel, though. We all know that there are different kinds of black, and once a black item is faded it can only be matched with other black items.

This look is brooding and dark. It can either be androgynous with tight pants or leggings and tops that are either tight to the skin or flowing, or it can be overtly feminine with black maxi or midi skirts and dresses.
Hats are common here.

Visual Kei

The next two styles are more common in Japan, popularized in the fashionable Harajuku district (though it isn’t to be confused with “Harajuku fashion” which is often loud and colorful).
We’ll start with Visual kei.

Visual kei is also a music style that’s similar to glam rock or glam metal. Visual kei fashion follows this. It incorporates a lot of black clothing and a lot of metal accents like buckles and jewelry. Hair is often spiky and either all-black or colorful.
Dark makeup is common in visual kei styles, with heavy eyeliner and dark lipstick.

When you think of visual kei you should think of “drama” and flamboyancy. There are a lot of accessories like hats and gloves to tie looks together. While there are no “guidelines” to visual kei, the overall silhouettes tend to be androgynous.
Visual kei style pulls from goth, punk, and even some BDSM elements. It’s not for everyone, but if you can make it work, rock it!

Gothic Lolita

Gothic lolita is another semi-popular style in Japan and it’s a distinct subgroup of both goth fashion and lolita fashion. It’s similar to pastel goth in that it wants to blend “cute” and “spooky”. Instead of pastels, though, most outfits are monochrome with black and white, all black, or all dark colors.

We have a connotation with the word “lolita” just because of the Nabokov novel, but in Japan, it refers to a doll-like fashion that incorporates elements of Victorian design. Most gothic Lolitas wear midi dresses, though there are some who wear short trousers.
Gothic Lolita fashion is complicated with many visual elements. It often contains small hats, veils, corsets, gloves, and petticoats (to get the bell-shaped silhouette common in all Lolita fashion).

Makeup is dark but not flamboyant.

Incorporating Modern Goth Flair

If you don’t want to commit to a full-goth style, there’s nothing wrong with taking bits and pieces of goth fashion and incorporating them into your own personal style.

Wearing all-black fashion now and then is a cool look, even if you don’t want to commit to it daily (or almost daily). You can add the petticoats and blazers of the Japanese goth-adjacent styles to your normal look for a bit of flair without being so different that you stand out in a crowd.

All black makeup, even black lipstick, isn’t uncommon. While you may get a few sideways glances, you won’t be doing anything too strange or unusual if you adopt heavy black eyeliner and a dark lip. After all, black lipstick is even sold in pharmacies now from popular makeup brands.

If you’re looking for more subtlety, why not add in skull rings for women or men, thick chains, or unique black hats?
You can also add the fishnet stockings or harnesses of the pastel goth trend into your outfits for a “sexy” way of dipping your toes into goth fashion.

Goth Fashion Isn’t What You Think

There are so many subgroups of goth-style fashion. Some disagree with each other being modern goth styles, but they all incorporate the goth elements of the past while adding new elements that make them unique.

Fashion is supposed to be fun and personal. If you’re interested in goth fashion, why not go for it?

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